Recommendations of the Build America Investment Initiative Interagency Working Group
In July 2014 President Obama launched the Build America Investment Initiative to increase infrastructure investment and spur economic growth. In January 2015, as part of that Initiative, the U.S. Treasury Department and Department of Transportation have issued a set of Recommendations of the Build America Investment Initiative Interagency Working Group, with a focus on expanding public-private collaboration in U.S. infrastructure development and financing. Some of the priority strategic opportunities addressed in the report include increasing infrastructure resilience where new infrastructure investments present opportunities to “increase the nation’s climate preparedness and ecosystem resilience by incorporating projected future climate conditions into their placement and design.”
The Interagency Infrastructure Finance Working Group’s recommendations address 13 priority areas: eight pathways to creating more favorable conditions for private investment and public-private partnerships across all infrastructure sectors and five priority infrastructure sectors: transportation, ports, water, state- and locally-owned electricity, and broadband. The initiatives are intended to leverage private sector capital, innovation, and expertise, while establishing models for creating and protecting good jobs and local economic opportunity.
The report specifically emphasizes that increasing resilience and improving cross-sector coordination are both strategic opportunities that should be part of federal efforts to reverse decades of under-investment in U.S. infrastructure and support intelligent investments moving forward.
Sector-specific recommendations are provided, and infrastructure resiliency strategies for climate impacts and extreme weather are given for the water and energy infrastructure sectors.
The report describes how using innovative, green approaches to modernize clean water infrastructure offers numerous benefits including avoiding financial losses from leaking pipes; reducing pollution from sewer overflows and wastewater discharges; protecting drinking water sources and public health, as well as aquatic resources; and enhancing the resilience of municipal utilities.
Resilient Water Infrastructure Recommendations:
- Improve utilization of existing federal programs and encourage sustainable funding sources for municipal utility programs. Promote innovative financial tools. Highlight best practices, offer technical assistance, and collaborate with states to promote innovative practices; facilitate peer-to-peer learning; and partner with interested states, municipalities, and private investors to encourage innovative financial practices to support additional water infrastructure investment and increased resilience.
- Through collaboration across federal agencies, support small community water systems through technical assistance and outreach to communities (including tribes) who currently lack technical, managerial, or financial capacity.
- Build the analytical base for stormwater utilities by sponsoring research and analysis to provide data for state and local officials seeking sustainable sources of funding.
- Use technical assistance to support water utilities in developing energy-saving programs.
- Improve partnership with the USDA Rural Water Guaranteed Loan Program.
According to the report, energy infrastructure faces threats of disruption from climate change, extreme weather, and cyber and physical attacks. Extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy demonstrate how electricity disruptions cascade to dependent infrastructure systems like water and wastewater, transportation, IT, and communications.
Resilient Energy Infrastructure Recommendations:
- Establish an Electricity Resilience Information Portal at DOE to provide data, tools, and best practices to support investment in resilient electricity infrastructure. The Portal would provide access to the data and tools in the following recommendations.
- Improve electricity sector data availability and data standardization. Ensure that the relevant data are available from a single source in a single format.
- Develop analytical tools to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change in assessments of electricity investments.
- Develop analytical tools to understand and quantify the value of investments in resilience to facilitate the justification for resilience improvement expenditures. Create standard metrics to account for the benefits of resilience in electricity infrastructure investment decisions.
- Establish a resiliency course to educate state and local stakeholders on best practices for robust decision-making related to new infrastructure.
Publication Date: January 16, 2015
- U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Policy analysis/recommendations